Understanding Welsh Places

Our new project has collected and analysed data on over 300 towns in Wales which will help inform and empower communities across the country.

Today, we’re delighted to launch Understanding Welsh Places.


Did you know that Blaenau Ffestiniog has more in common with Nelson, Caerphilly than with neighbouring Porthmadog?  


Understanding Welsh Places is a bilingual website that presents information on the economy, demographic make-up and local services of more than 300 places in Wales in a quick and easy format. 


We see it becoming the first port of call for statistical information about towns in Wales.


Stats the way


Currently, a lot of statistics collected about Wales are only available on a local authority level and too often, town communities are overlooked by public policy, because of the difficulty accessing data at that level.


Understanding Welsh Places will allow people to explore and compare statistics on towns; including information on:

  • Population, age distribution, ethnicity and national identity
  • Number of primary and secondary school places per person
  • The industry of employment, commuting distances and qualifications 
  • Number of hospitals, GPs and dentists per person


Funded by the Carnegie UK Trust, and the Welsh Government, the website will be a vital tool for community groups, planners and policy makers to understand towns in greater detail and will enable communities to identify opportunities in their areas.


The site will have information on every place in Wales with more than 1,000 residents and a comparative analysis of every place with more than 2,000 residents.


Grouping towns


Understanding Welsh Places will also categorise places in Wales into 7 different groups of similar towns. This will allow people to make links and share ideas from across the country. 


If a re-generation policy worked well in Crickhowell, could it also work in Penrhyn Bay; both of which are towns in category 4?


Understanding Welsh Places allows these links to be made and allows people to analyse areas from all corners of Wales – all on a single webpage.


The data has also been used to classify each town on a scale ranging from Independent to Dependent. Looking at economic and social factors (such as a reliance on a particular sector for jobs and the distances that residents travel to work) we can see if an area is reliant on neighbouring places or if they are ‘independent’.


Public contributions


Each entry will also have a small account of the local area, giving a little descriptive flavour to the numbers.  There are still many towns who do not have this narrative description and we would encourage people to submit one to add some colour to their town’s entry.


We are also able to incorporate additional statistical information. If organisations have conducted local qualitative research, that can be uploaded to the site.


Going forward


Over the next year we will be looking to add more data, including numbers on electoral participation and local cultural activities.


At the moment, targeted funding exists for city regions and rural development but there is nothing specific to towns. 


We hope that Understanding Welsh Places will bridge the ‘data gap’ around towns and that this will, in turn, inform and influence the development of policies which will help the areas in which so many of us live. 



The Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) at Cardiff University were procured to complete the website build. Additional data processing and analysis has been provided by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies based in Manchester.

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